Warning after teething treatments cause 10 deaths

The MHRA has issued a warning after 400 cases of seizures and other reactions were linked to teething gels and tablets

Parents have been told not to use US-made homeopathic teething treatments after claims they are to blame for the deaths of 10 children in America.

British health officials issued the warning after a US investigation also linked the tablets and gels to 400 cases of seizures and other reactions in youngsters.

Symptoms can include difficulty in breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, constipation and difficulty urinating.

Most dramatically, the US Food and Drug Administration claimed, earlier this month, to have evidence that taking the remedies has led to 10 deaths.

Unlicensed medicines

Now the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued the warning to parents in this country not to be tempted to buy the products online.

It did not name the manufacturers of the products, which are not licensed for use in the UK and are not known to be available in UK outlets.

However, it has been reported that CVS withdrew eight products in the US, including Baby Orajel Naturals, five made by Hyland’s and two CVS own-brand products, Walgreens then followed suit.

Dr Siu Ping Lam, the MHRA’s director of licensing, said the unlicensed products may be advertised on online shopping or pharmacy websites.

He said: ‘If you have given your child any unlicensed homeopathic products and they experience side-effects, you should contact your doctor for advice.

‘Anyone who has bought unlicensed homeopathic products online should not use them and return them to your pharmacy for disposal.

‘We advise members of the public not to buy unlicensed medicines online and have recently launched a campaign to help people purchase medicines via the internet safely.’

Teething tables

Teething tablets are small pills designed to dissolve under a baby’s tongue or in a small amount of water.

They typically contain ingredients such as Chamomilla, which is meant to help with irritability, and Coffea Cruda, meant to help curb sleeplessness.

However, concerns have been expressed previously that teething tablets may contain toxic ingredients and that – where unregulated – it is impossible to verify exactly what is in them.

The MHRA reassured parents that homeopathic products licensed in the UK were not affected and could continue to be used.

It issued a list of those, made by A Nelson and Company Ltd, Boiron, Helios Homoeopathy Ltd and Weleda UK Ltd.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has produced guidance on how to manage symptoms of teething, which can be read at http://cks.nice.org.uk/teething#!scenario.

It recommends ‘self-care measures’, such as gentle rubbing of the gum and allowing the child to bite on a clean and cool object.

Paracetamol or ibuprofen suspension, used according to instructions, can be considered for infants three months of age or older.

In the US, Hyland’s questioned what grounds the Food and Drug Administration had for its warning against homeopathy.

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